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The Ruby Report

The Australian technology market is changing at an exponential rate. We’ve seen a huge rise in the adoption of emerging technologies and expansion of the startup space, with more incubators, increased access to funding and more community support than ever before.

For many startups, Ruby is a language of choice and as they scale, the decision to stick with, or move away from Ruby becomes an important one.

In this research we invited over 400 Ruby on Rails engineers to share insights into the market.

What you’ll learn from this article

  • How the technology market is changing for Ruby on Rails engineers
  • Top 4 languages Ruby on Rails engineers are learning to protect/enhance their employability
  • Engineer’s predictions on Ruby on Rails standing the test of time.

Let’s get to it.

The Report

1. Only 1 in 3 of the engineers surveyed believe Ruby on Rails is increasing in popularity

Shocked? Don’t fear, 41% of engineers surveyed believe the commercial use of Ruby on Rails will remain steady for the future. Leaving 26% who think the use of Ruby on Rails is set to decrease over the coming years.

What’s happening in the market?

We’re seeing established, post-funded tech companies like Envato and Culture Amp doubling-down their investment into Ruby with aggressive hiring strategies. With some Ruby on Rails houses set to recruit over 40 RoR Engineers this financial year.

Equally, we’ve seen new tech startups considering their options with alternative languages and frameworks. In 2019 and beyond, Ruby on Rails’ speed of development may no longer be the obvious choice. From a review of Angel List’s job board, it’s clear Ruby has strong competition from server-side JavaScript and Python.

2.  2 in 3 Engineers believe Ruby will remain their primary skill in 3 years time.

Which is great news, but does this indicate a 1 in 3 drop off and should the Ruby on Rails community be concerned about this? If there is indeed a continued decrease in new startups investing in Ruby on Rails and signs of more established high-growth businesses opting to move to other languages, could this be the beginning of Ruby’s decline?

What we are seeing is an increase in tech businesses diversifying their tech stack. GitHub is a recent example of this as they’ve made a move to Go and Java. This is not to say that everyone will move away from Ruby on Rails, natural attrition is part of any cycle and we’ll learn later in the article what other languages Ruby on Rails engineers are learning to stay relevant.

3.  Is the future of Ruby on Rails out of engineer’s hands?

Almost 50% of engineers think Ruby’s biggest threat is to do with factors beyond their control, such as new trends in the market or companies migrating to another language.

However, a quarter suggest that performance issues remain a primary concern for the longevity of the language. Scaling issues have always been directed to Rails and in more recent years we’ve seen businesses move away from Ruby to realise growth plans. Consider that with Bleacher Report’s migration from Ruby on Rails to Elixir & Phoenix, they decreased server numbers from 150 to 5! Will other tech business opt for such a robust platform and follow Bleacher Report’s lead?

Only 17% of engineers surveyed believe a decline in popularity, or development of better languages, would be a viable threat to Ruby on Rails.

4.  Attraction to startups

50% of Ruby on Rails engineers feel its attraction to startups is what will help to increase RoR use in the future.

Anecdotally speaking, thinking back to 2015 when I entered the Ruby recruitment market, I recall startups choosing to use Ruby on Rails as a “no-brainer” option. Since then, I’ve seen an ongoing reduction in the number of startups choosing Ruby on Rails for a variety of reasons. Could this be set to continue or is this is a trend set to reverse?

A third of engineers believe that addressing Ruby’s current weaknesses will be instrumental to its wider adoption. And 15% believe the loyal open source community who contribute in addressing these problems will help to strengthen it even more.

5.  Top 4 Languages to learn to stay relevant in 2019

Ruby on Rails engineers admit that to stay relevant over the next few years, they’ll need to learn additional skills to ensure they are ‘future fit’ for new working environments and job opportunities. We asked engineers to tell us which languages they would learn to help stay attractive to future employers.

There were 4 clear winners with Node.js topping the table for top language to learn in 2019.

From a recruitment perspective, the desire to learn Node.js, Go, Python and Elixir matches the demands of our client base – these skills, along with Ruby, are in high and constant demand.

Node.js is hugely popular for businesses of all shapes and sizes because of its performance on real-time applications. Specifically, we’re seeing the contract market boom for JavaScript requirements across Sydney.

Python has had a resurgence through the growing field of data science. Elixir’s robustness is seen by many as the solution to Ruby’s scaling issues. And Golang is gaining traction in the blockchain world.

Only 4% of Ruby engineers are so confident in Ruby that they don’t need to learn another language

Conclusion

Ruby on Rails has in many ways been the ultimate framework for startups, and in recent years some businesses (like Envato and Culture Amp) have been able to scale significantly using Ruby as their core platform.

For many organisations like Netflix and Github, Ruby on Rails forms part of a heterogenous stack of technologies. Naturally, this has led them to needing engineers with diverse skills across various languages.

While very few Ruby engineers see no obvious need to learn another language, most of the community see benefits to growing their skill set to include Node.js, Python, Go or Elixir.

“It’s our view that the long term success of Ruby on Rails relies on the next generation of tech start ups having confidence that Ruby will in fact allow them to scale.”

To achieve this confidence, founders and entrepreneurs will need to see larger, more established businesses continue to invest in Ruby. And see ‘role-model’ brands in the industry reap benefits from scaling with Ruby, which can only be achieved by working through its current challenges.

Furthermore, the loyalty of the open source community and their commitment to solving these scalability issues will lead to increased adoption.

We’d love to hear from you – Spare 5 minutes and tell us what YOU think of the Future of Ruby

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